Tuesday, January 24, 2006


El Charro

Good baked custards are getting very scarce. In fact, it's hard to write about them without having to fight back the temptation to make a dreadful pun about the infamous American cavalry officer who got killed trying to fight too many Indians. It's hard to find the creamy, sugary richness of a real custard anymore. Unfortunately, a generation of diet crazes and lazy cooks have driven real custard out of our kitchens and restaurants. Instead, custards have been largely replaced by ice cream, which can be good, and Jello Instant Pudding, which is a decidedly poor substitute for the real thing.

So, what does a lament for custard have to do with a Mexican restaurant? Well, El Charro is one of the few places where you can get a real, freshly baked custard, as the Mexicans have been keeping this tradition alive in the form of the flan. And El Charro has what may very well be the finest flan in all of Newton County. The flan here is amazingly rich, with a hint of cheese. It's definitely a perfect ending to a dinner.

Well, I probably should say something about the rest of the food here too, since you probably won't just order a flan. It's the standard Tex-Mex fare, done reasonably well. It's hard to point to any one particular specialty, but they have the usual assortment of burritos and fajitas and other normal entrees. Curiously, the fajitas here come with a squeeze bottle of Parkay, which I don't normally use.

They also have a very affordable lunch menu. If you stick to water for your beverage, lunch here can be just as cheap as at a fast-food joint, but with the quality you expect from a sit-down restaurant.

El Charro has two locations in Covington now. The main difference is the one out by Wal-Mart is larger and newer, but the food and menus are identical. Decor is the expected Mexican theme; both have paintings of guitar players, since El Charro is Spanish for a type of musician.

Check it out, and support your local custard.

3165 Elm St.
Covington, GA

9148 Covington Bypass
Covington, GA

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Mamie's Kitchen

If the events that brought my wife and me together were a Truman Capote novel, it would be called Breakfast at Mamie's. We have probably had more Saturday morning breakfasts together here than anywhere else. While Mamie's does serve lunch too (but no dinner), it's their breakfast that is their biggest draw. Most of the foods are typical Southern greasy spoon fare - grits, pancakes, fresh-made biscuits, eggs, and sweet tea. As one of the signs at their Brown Bridge location says, "It ain't healthy, but it sure tastes good!"

Perhaps one of the most amazing items on the menu is their chicken biscuit. They take a huge piece of chicken breast - no processed and ground stuff here - and fry it in a light, fluffy breading. The chicken slice dwarfs the biscuit that they serve it on. There's so much meat, grease, and goodness here that if you eat it all for breakfast, you might not need lunch. Seriously.

11245 Brown Bridge Rd.
Covington, GA 30016

1295 N. Main St.
Conyers, GA 30012

2821 Evans Mill Rd.
Lithonia, GA 30058

7121 Highway 278
Covington, GA 30014

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Nagoya Japanese Steak, Seafood, & Sushi

Where does Covington's self-appointed restaurant critic go for his own wedding reception? Since we had a fairly small guest list, we decided to have it at a restaurant instead of going to the trouble of renting a venue and arranging for catering. And Nagoya had both excellent food and a room big enough to hold our reception. Perfect.

As with many hibachi places, the food is only half the experience. The rest is watching the food prepared in outlandish hibachi style while you watch. The chefs at Nagoya are experts at the usual juggling and pyrotechnics, making flaming volcanos from onions and catching shrimps in their hats.

While hibachi restaurants often have very similar menus no matter where you go, Nagoya does have a few entrees that are a little different. For example, one choice is fillet mignon with garlic. Other than a few unusual items, if you've been to a hibachi restraurant before, you'll know what to expect. And if you haven't - you're in for a treat.

1065 Access Rd.
Covington, GA 30014

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